If the words Turquoise Jeep mean nothing, I feel sorry for you. Not-all-that-long story, shortened: TJ is a collective of rap/RnB artists and producers whose home-movie-budget music videos have lit up YouTube like fireworks in one’s living room. Their breakthrough proper came with Yung Humma‘s Lemme Smang It – “smang”, smash it and bang, being the purest portmanteau since “Jedward” – in October 2010; the track’s video has now racked up very nearly five million views.
Ultimately, it’s this crew’s outsider charm, their DIY approach and naggingly addictive beats – simple, effective – that hooks the listener. But what a treat the videos are, too, and the lyrical content… When it’s not fall-about funny, it’s wonderfully observed stuff, the mundane matter-of-fact turned on its head, becoming uncommonly absorbing. So here’s five reasons I find TJ – members of whom hail from across the States, “from New York to North Carolina” according to founder Flynt Flossy in this Village Voice interview – so very brilliant.
1. The production is spot-on. In-house wizard Tummiscratch, who makes a handful of cameos across the TQ video collection (my favourite: about 2.50 into Slick Mahoney‘s Go Grab My Belt, below), is – says Flossy – “(a man who) can make a masterpiece with a Playskool piano. It’s ridiculous. He amazes us every single time. Whenever I have any kind of melody in my head that I think will be close to another smanger, I hit him up immediately, and he will just build on it. He is a genius.” And it shows. You don’t need to have thousands of dollars and the very latest technology to create great music, and Tummiscratch absolutely nails what he needs to with great economy. The results: songs that stick in your head with or without the videos.
Slick Mahoney – Go Grab My Belt
2. It’s never clear if they’re for real, or not. Again, brilliant. Who is behind Flossy’s comedy facial furniture? Why does Tummiscratch wear a mask? The contributors who are presented at purely face value clearly take their art very seriously, and performances are consistently tighter than any proverbial parallel you want to draw. The mystery behind TJ is almost as alluring as the tracks and videos themselves – with barely any press out there, and just internet buzz building them to where they are today, they’re out-punching the hyped Odd Future for repeat-play value (not to mention good-time fun: as Flossy says, “Our music is made for all people. There’s no discrimination over here at Turquoise Jeep Records – nothing but love, feel me baby?”). The amazing amount of fan feedback, and tributes, on YouTube is evidence enough of their of mass appeal.
Turquoise Jeep Records Fan Tribute Pt.2
3. Their video casting is brilliant. You can’t have a hip hop video without some honeys, right? (Well, wrong, obviously; but for the sake of point 3…) And TJ’s casting of them is perfect. Are they friends of the artists? Who knows. But The Girls Of Turquoise Jeep are the kind of great-looking ladies who many a viewer might consider – and forgive this choice of language – “attainable”. Or, in other (better) words: “normal”. Nobody’s had an ass implant to be here. And the looks they shoot the camera? Hilarious. Humma might well want to “smang it”, but the object of his affections is far from moved. At 1.25 (and… oh my… again at 1.36) in the video below, she could be watching some CSI for all the “oooh, yes, boss, right there etc”-ing on her face. See also: the first minute of this slice of pure comedy/musical gold.
Yung Humma feat. Flynt Flossy – Lemme Smang It
4. The dancing. The above, and the below. Need I say more? (Okay, a bit.) The abandon is unmatched. Sure, videos of this stylistic corner of the pop spectrum are rarely without a little bumpin’ or grindin’ – but it’s usually those around the protagonist of the piece who are possessed by the music enough to wholly lose themselves to it. Flossy mightn’t be the best rapper in hip hop, but he’s probably the best dancer. (And he’s happy to share his skills, too.)
Flynt Flossy – Did I Mention I Like To Dance
5. It’s harmless. Sure, these guys like their sex – titles like Sex Syrup, Fried or Fertilized (as in eggs – eww) and Licky Sticky (1.47 in the below: brilliant) speak for themselves (and I don’t think they’re talking about chocolate, really, here) – but it’s dressed up in non-discriminating, non-chauvinistic language and delivered with a tongue firmly in cheek. It’s pier-end entertainment on a global level; guys playing dress up and singing slightly saucy songs about youknowwhat. And in case you’d not twigged by this point of these words, it’s packaged superbly.
Whatchyamacallit feat. Flynt Flossy – Licky Sticky
The Turquoise Jeep album, Keep The Jeep Ridin’, which features all of the above songs, is out now, yours for £6.99 on Amazon.